Retiring Town Administrator Joyce Fulweiler (left) congratulates Jeanie Forrester (right), who will succeed her in October. (Photo by Leigh Sharps) (click for larger version)
August 24, 2018TILTON—It was an eventful night at Town Hall last Thursday evening, as former selectman Joe Jesseman was appointed to re-join the board as a replacement for the recently departed Ashlee Saint John, and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jeanie Forrester was named as retiring Town Administrator Joyce Fulweiler's successor.
Fulweiler was also lauded for her many years of service to the town.
Addressing the audience and speaking for the board, Chairman Jonathan Scanlon read, in part, "What is most impressive about Jeanie is her caring and compassion for people and the issues that are important to our community. She looks forward to working with the Board to achieve our goals. We are very fortunate to have Jeanie's skills and expertise as we face these challenges."
"I am so honored by this appointment. I know I have big shoes to fill, but I am so looking forward to working in this beautiful town. My door will always be open! I'm so excited to be a part of this family," Forrester said.
Forrester is a three term state legislator, and former Town Administrator in Tuftonboro and New Durham. She is also the former Executive Director of the Main Street Program in both Plymouth and Meredith. She will start her employment Oct. 15.
Seven residents threw their hats in the ring for appointment on the select board to fill the vacancy left by former board member Saint John, who recently moved out of town. The interim appointment lasts five months until the town election next March. That remaining term/seat will be on the ballot, as well as a three year seat now held by Katherine Dawson.
Prior to last Thursday's candidates' night, two of the prospects withdrew their candidacy, so five turned out at town hall for the hour long interview session. Sitting left to right were Joe Jesseman, Eric Pyra, Juliet Harvey-Bolia, Jason Wright and Tod Odell. They were each given a few minutes to give a little self background and reasons why they desired to fill the vacant seat.
Jesseman said he was a former selectman, and had "budgeting experience, town policy, and planning and zoning knowledge."
Pyra said he has been involved with the town in various ways including the school system, budget committee, planning and zoning boards and the Fire Commission.
"I am entrenched in this town," he remarked.
Harvey-Bolia told the audience she has experience serving on boards for seven years.
"This is a great town," she said. "There a lot of wonderful things about it and there is potential unrealized. My pet project is in downtown revitalization."
Wright, a water and sewer commissioner, said his job working in the State Surplus department gives him great ideas on ways to "collaborate surplus with the town in finding ways to save money for many items and services."
Odell, who relocated to Tilton from Littleton last November, said he had served on many boards and commissions in Littleton including the Park and Rec. Commission.
"I work in construction and have overseen many state projects including the Cannon Tramway and residential construction as well," he added.
Several residents asked questions, as well as a selectman, Katherine Dawson. Questions ranged from how to obtain more grants, employ resources better, advertise town events, beautifying Main Street, regionalization, the budget season. One resident had concerns that the board already had two sewer commissioners on it and wondered what the impact would be if a third were appointed to the board.
Mutual candidate concerns were over forming a business community/committee, with not just Tilton exit businesses but with downtown businesses as well, riverfront and downtown renewal and holding more community events.
Before going into non-public to deliberate and vote on an appointment, Scanlon told the audience, "We wish we could have everyone here. This is a very hard decision and we don't want anyone to take offense. We'll vote for whom we feel can fill in for five months and get the town business done seamlessly."
After about half an hour, the board came out of session and announced Jesseman as their appointee.
Fulweiler said she is not about to just 'sit back' during retirement.
"I am going back to school to be a drug and alcohol counselor," she said. "I'm very excited about it."